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Updated: 2015-09-16T15:36:52.059-04:00


Sugarlaw(s) Has Moved!


Sugarlaw is now at !!!

This is my very, very belated notice that this website has moved (a month ago). Those who visited the site directly were automatically transferred to my new site, but I never wrote (this) post for the original blog!

Please update your bookmarks and I hope to hear from you all soon!

Pumpkin Tart


I was such a huge fan of the chocolate tart I made a few weeks ago that I decided to adapt the recipe to pumpkin for Thanksgiving. And not only was my creation delicious, but it was sturdy too! This little tart managed to survive a frantic cab ride to Grand Central, a crowded train ride to Connecticut, and a car ride to my house in the trunk, all without a single crack. The store-bought pastries I brought to Thanksgiving last year were destroyed within about ten minutes of leaving my apartment. Major improvement.

This was so good. The crust/filling ratio is higher for this tart than it is for pumpkin pie, but otherwise, the recipe is exactly the same. So, if you want to make a pie, just double the filling and it should fit perfectly. You shouldn't have to change any measurements for the crust part of the recipe, it easily makes enough to fit a pie dish. Yum!

Pumpkin Tart


For crust:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 large egg
2 tbsp water

For filling:
1/2 of a 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
1/2 of a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place flour, sugar, salt, butter, one egg, and water in a food processor. Pulse until blended into one large ball of dough.
3. Roll dough out on a floured surface, into an approximately 12" circle. Roll the dough up onto the pin and lay it on top of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
4. Press the dough into the pan so it fits into all the edges, particularly on the sides of the tart pan. Trim the excess dough from the edges of the pan.
5. Refrigerate the tart dough for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the tart from the refridgerator, and line the inside of the tart with aluminum foil. Place pie weights (or dried beans, or rice) in the foil.
7. Bake for 30 minutes (the tart is easier to bake if you place the tart shell on a cookie sheet).
8. Remove the tart from the oven and remove the foil and pie weights. Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 3-5 minutes, or until the tart's edges are is golden, but not browned. Place on a counter or table to cool the tart shell.
9. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
10. In a medium saucepan, on low heat, heat the pumpkin, salt and spices for 2-3 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk, and heat to a scald (bubbles around the edges of the pan but not boiling).
11. Remove from heat and whisk in egg, until blended.
12. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake 25 minutes, or until the filling is set but still wobbly. Allow to cool, and serve.

Serves 8.

Cinnamon Muffins



I don't actually like muffins. To me, they're basically just big greasy, high-calorie cakes that offer zero nutritional value and will leave you hungry again in an hour or two. (I love cupcakes, though. Go figure.) But it's hard for me to dislike anything that I make myself. And don't they look pretty? It's even harder to dislike anything that pretty.

These were my contribution to our breakfast the day after Thanksgiving. I think cinnamon muffins are a southern thing, because I've never really seen them in bakeries in New York. I don't really know what else to day about them. If you like cinnamon, and you like muffins, I feel pretty confident that you'll like these. I didn't particularly care for them. But aren't they pretty?

Cinnamon Muffins

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups sifted, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Slowly add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir into wet mix. Pour in milk and stir until well combined.
3. Pour into greased muffin pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of the muffins comes out dry. Allow to cool before removing from muffin pan. Serve.

Makes 12-14 medium size muffins.

Cipollini Onion Tart



Remember earlier this week when I said that the squash chowder was my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner? That was a total lie. This tart was, by far, my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, but I couldn't post the recipe until today because it's not on the Williams Sonoma website. My poor mother actually had to scan her Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving recipe booklet and email it to me. Yay technology.

My mom also says that cippolini onions are expensive, but I saw them at the farmer's market on Saturday for $2 a pound, seriously. And since they were the most amazing thing that has ever been a part of our Thanksgiving dinner, they might be popping up in my own dishes in the near future...

Cipollini Onion Tart

For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6-7 tbsp ice water, or as needed

For the filling:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lb cipollini onions, peeled and ends trimmed
1/4 cup cabernet sauvingon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse. Add the water a little at a time and pulse until the dough just begins to come together in a rough mass.
2. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and roll into a 13-inch disk, about 1/4" thick. Fold over the edges of the dough, about 1" around, and crimp to seal. Transfer to baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat an oven to 375°F.
4. To make the filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add salt and combine, then add onions. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frquently, until carmelized on all sides.
5. Add the wine and reduce until syrupy, about 6-8 minutes.
6. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and place the dough on top of the onions. Prick the surface to let air escape.
8. Return the pan to the oven and bake until crust is golden brown, about 35 minutes.
9. Remove the pan from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Place a serving platter upside down on top of the pan and turn both upside down together. Lift off the pan, leaving the onion tart on the serving dish. Serve immediately!

Serves 4-6 (or one very hungry Katy, who could probably eat this whole thing by herself).

Cinnamon Crème Brûlée



Crème Brûlée is one of those ubiquitous dessert items that you see on just about every menu in New York. Because of that, I pretty much assumed that it would be easy to make. And it is, for sure, but it takes a while to cook and then chill in the refrigerator. I wouldn't whip this up for myself on a random weeknight, but it's a good dessert if you're having a dinner party, because it requires you to to make it in advance. Just be very, very careful if you're trying to blow-torch the tops after a few glasses of wine!

I own a crème brûlée blowtorch. I'm vaguely puzzled by that fact, because this weekend was the second time I've ever made crème brûlée in my life. But it was on sale, and I was talking to the most persuasive salesperson at Williams Sonoma ever. She was all, "oh, you'll be surprised how much you use this. You can even use it to grill cheese on sandwiches!" And I was all, "oh, that's a great idea! I've always wanted to eat untoasted bread with melted cheese on top, thanks to my blowtorch." So, I bought it.

If you don't have a crème brûlée mini-blowtorch, you can use your oven broiler (or toaster oven, actually). Which is actually how normal people melt cheese on their sandwiches. Sigh.

Cinnamon Crème Brûlée

2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar
2 large egg yolks
Additional sugar, for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, vanilla and cinnamon to a scald (small bubbles around the edge of the pan but not boiling). Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and the egg yolks until pale in color.
4. Whisk in the cream to the egg yolks a little at a time. Pour the liquid into 2 ramekins.
5. Place the ramekins into a large pan, and fill the pan with warm water halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
6. Bake just until the crème brûlée is set, but still wobbly in the center (about 30 minutes).
7. Refrigerate the ramekins for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before serving.
8. Before serving, dust sugar on the tops of crème brûlée with sugar, and melt sugar with a crème brûlée torch or over broiler. Serve!

Serves two.

Butternut Squash Chowder



My mother puts Martha Stewart to shame. Every time I go home, whether it's for Thanksgiving dinner or for a random weekend, when my mother cooks, she goes all out. Beautiful, seasonal, organic ingredients, healthy preparations (mostly), and decorations that are almost as lovely as the food.

This soup was my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. And, frankly, I was a little troubled by the bacon ingredient, but when my mother asked me if it was ok, I wasn't going to ruin everyone else's soup just because I happen to be a vegetarian. BUT, you could easily make this soup without the bacon and it would still be delicious. In fact, I might just try to do a veggie-friendly version this week. But it was really, really yummy, and a perfect fall-inspired starter for a traditional Thanksgiving meal!

Butternut Squash Chowder

4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp chopped fresh sage, plus small sage
leaves for garnish
4 tsp kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1 tsp freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup white wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 jar (32 oz.) butternut squash puree
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towellined plate. Set aside.
2. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bay leaf, chopped sage, the 4 tsp. salt and the 1 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
3. Add the wine and simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.
4. Add the butternut squash puree and bacon and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
5. Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls and garnish with sage leaves. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

This is a Williams Sonoma recipe -- you can find the original recipe here.

Sage Ciabatta Rolls



As I left to come back into New York the day after Thanksgiving, my mother packed me all her leftover fresh herbs that she had bought for Thanksgiving dinner. Sage was the one I was most excited to experiment with.

So, Saturday morning, when my dogs woke me up and I couldn't get back to sleep (a very regular weekend occurrence), I decided to take advantage of those under-used Saturday morning hours and bake bread. All in all, not a bad idea -- by the time the bread was in the oven, I could smell it all through my apartment. Some people have macaroni and cheese, or chicken soup, as their comfort food. For me, it's bread, all the way.

Sage Ciabatta Rolls

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of 100% whole wheat flour
1 cup plus 2 tbsp of hot water (110 degrees)
1 package of instant yeast (11 grams)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a food processor, mix white flour, wheat flour, salt, sugar, sage and yeast.
3. Turn on faucet until water is as hot as it gets. Measure a cup of water and add water to the flour mixture and knead until blended. Add olive oil and knead for 2-3 minutes more, or until blended (the dough is very sticky at this stage).
4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, coating all sides of dough. Cover bowl with saran wrap, and let rise somewhere warm for 20 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.
5. Punch down dough. On a well-floured surface, pull off approximately 3/4 cup of dough and form into a rounded or oval roll shape. Coat roll dough with flour, and place on a greased cookie sheet.
6. Repeat with the remainder of the dough. There should be approximately 12 rolls total.
7. Cover all the rolls with saran wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until doubled again.
8. Bake bread for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bottoms of loaves are golden.

Mushroom Stir Fry


I know what you are thinking... you're thinking, "Katy, aren't those the same ingredients that you used as your dumpling filling last week?" Yes, guilty. These were so good that I wanted them on their own, without the hassle of laying out the wonton wrappers and sealing and steaming the dumplings.

Also, I am newly obsessed with sesame oil. It packs an enormous amount of flavor, and it makes your whole house/apartment smell like toasted sesame seeds. Which is a very, very good smell.

Mushroom Stir Fry

10 oz baby bella mushrooms
1 medium white onion
1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce

1. Cut mushrooms and onion into 1/4" slices.
1. In a medium saute pan, saute onion in sesame oil, until onion is translucent.
2. Add mushrooms and soy sauce to onion and saute an additional 5 minutes, until browned and softened. Serve.

Serves 2-3.

Vanilla Meringues



I am a little bit of a sugar addict, and not surprisingly, these are one of my favorite desserts. And since I moved to New York, I've been on a quest to find good meringues. I've had an occasional almost-success (the pavlova at Balthazaar is delicious, although not quite what I was looking for), but it's largely been a devastating failure. Too often they're made with some strange flavoring, coloring, or (worst of all) nuts, which is most certainly not what I'm looking for. So I knew I had to learn to make my own.

Unfortunately, I attempted this recipe twice and completely failed. I was attempting to beat the eggs and sugar myself with a whisk, and I think I just don't have the arm power. Rather than being light and fluffy, they were soup-like in the bowl and completely flat on the baking sheet. So, I caved and bought a hand mixer, which I can already tell is going to be a wonderful addition to my little kitchen. If only because now I can make these every single night...

Vanilla Meringues

2 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. In a glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites and vanilla until foamy.
3. Pour in sugar slowly, while continuing to whip the egg whites.
4. When the mixture becomes stiff, stop mixing (if you can turn the bowl upside down without the meringue mixture falling out, that's stiff enough)!
5. If you have a pastry bag, transfer the egg white mixture into it, and pipe the meringue out onto a baking sheet coated in wax paper. If not, just spoon the meringue out in large dollops.
4. Bake for 1 hour at 200 degrees.

Makes about twelve large meringues.

Caramelized Onion Omelette



There are so many wonderful things to say about this omelette. First, I made it with eggs from the farmer's market. The average eggs you eat in the supermarket are about two weeks old when you first buy them. If you're buying them at a farmer's market, they're about three days old. Not to mention, they're antibiotic-free, free range, and they're from a farm you're somewhat familiar with. A farm where you know the workers because you see them every week at the market, and where you can at least have some confidence that they're not abusing or mistreating their animals. How can you tell that from looking at an egg carton in a supermarket? As a vegetarian, if I'm going to eat any animal product (and I do eat eggs, butter, milk, etc), I want to have some confidence that the animals didn't suffer for me to eat it.

Second, this omelette is sort of a variation on the flavors of this amazing quiche I made several months ago from Simply Recipes. I made it for a dinner party, and every single one of my guests said it was the best quiche they'd ever had. So, not surprisingly, I have been a caramelized onion fanatic, sticking them in everything from appetizer tarts to risotto. And when I was wondering what to use as the filling for my omelette, guess what came to mind?

A few rules for making an omelette. First, add a teaspoon of water (not milk) for every 2-3 eggs. Second, beat the eggs lightly before pouring them into the pan. Third, throw in at least one egg yolk, because otherwise it really has no flavor. Personally, I'm partial to one egg yolk and three egg whites for a good flavor that's still fairly low-cholesterol. Fourth, when you first pour the omelette into the pan, stir the batter with your spatula for about 30 seconds, or until it starts to solidify (this helps it cook evenly). Fifth, don't flip your omelette. You're not making pancakes. Last, and most important, don't overcook. People are so irrationally terrified of undercooked eggs that they tend to brown omelettes. They should be light and golden -- if you're omelette has brown spots, cook it for a minute or two less next time.

Caramelized Onion Omelette

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small or medium white onions, sliced
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 tsp water

1. In a small saute pan, saute the onions in olive oil on medium heat until translucent (it's ok if they look slightly charred). Add salt and balsamic vinegar and saute for an additional 5 minutes on low heat.
2. Remove onions from saucepan and set aside.
3. In another bowl, mix one full egg and two egg whites with 1 tsp water. Whisk to break yolks and lightly beat.
4. Grease another pan with 1 tsp olive oil, and pour eggs in. Stir for 30 seconds, or until eggs start to solidify. Let cook for 3 more minutes without stirring.
5. Pour onions into the center of the omelette. Fold 1/3 of the omelette over the onions, and remove the pan from heat. Tilt the pan so that the omelette comes to the edge, and then flip the omelette out onto a plate. Serve.

Serves 1.



(image) When I was in China this summer, I tried to eat dumplings every day. Dumplings are one of my favorite foods in the US, so the opportunity to eat vastly superior ones in China was not to be squandered. My favorites of the whole trip were actually from a place right below the hotel I stayed at in Beijing, steamed vegetable dumplings with an almost-clear, thick doughy skin. In Shanghai, I ate xiao long bao for days in a row, despite the fact that I am 99% a vegetarian, before I caved and finally headed to Shanghai's phenomenal european restaurants, solely because of their much-needed air conditioning.

I didn't expect these dumplings to rival my memories of China (a nearly impossible feat), but they were really, really good. Plus, it's so fun to make them myself, which adds a level of satisfaction that you can never get by eating something that's been prepared for you. I will definitely be making these again. And, who knows, maybe as I get more experience, I'll be able to recreate the dumplings I loved in Beijing!

One word of advice, though. The sesame oil in this recipe is crucial. It gives the dumplings such an authentic asian flavor, and makes your whole kitchen smell delicious. I very much discourage substituting any other type of oil, they just wouldn't be nearly as good.

(image) Mushroom Dumplings

10 oz baby bella mushrooms, minced
1 medium white onion, minced
1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
24 wonton wrappers

1. In a medium saute pan, saute onion in sesame oil, until onion is translucent.
2. Add mushrooms to onion and saute until browned and softened.
3. Lay out wonton wrappers on a cutting board. Place 2 tsp of mushroom mixture in the center of each wrapper, and wet edges with water. Fold into a triangle and press edges to seal.
4. Line a steamer basket (metal or bamboo) with wax paper, and place dumplings in the basket. Steam for 3-4 minutes, or until dumplings are warmed through.

Serves 3-4.

Classic Chocolate Tart


I can't believe I made this! It looks like something I'd buy from a bakery or be served in a restaurant, not something I could actually create, from scratch, in my own kitchen! But this recipe taught me a number of things.First, I will never buy a frozen pie crust again. Baking a crust isn't hard at all!Second, buying "pie weights" is totally unnecessary. I knew I would have some adequate substitute in my kitchen, and, not surprisingly, I did. I used uncooked brown rice, but I know (from the Food Network) that you could also use dried beans. Either way, just let them cool down afterwards, and those are your homemade "pie weights" from now on. Excellent!Third, I blended the dough for the crust in my food processor, and itwas perfect. How much easier can you get? I just stuck the butter, flour, sugar, salt, egg, and water inside the mixer, and two minutes later it was blended into a solid ball of dough. This definitely my mixing method-of-choice from now on!Anyway, without further adieu, the recipe! But first, here's how the crust looked before baking. Yum!Classic Chocolate TartINGREDIENTS: For crust:1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour2 tbsp sugar1/8 teaspoon salt1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces1 large egg2 tbsp waterFor filling:1/2 cup light cream1/2 cup milk8 ounces chocolate chips (about 2/3 of one 11.5 oz bag)1 1/2 tablespoons sugar1/8 teaspoon salt1 full egg, plus one egg yolkDIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.2. Place flour, sugar, salt, butter, one egg, and water in a food processor. Pulse until blended into one large ball of dough.3. Roll dough out on a floured surface, into an approximately 12" circle. Roll the dough up onto the pin and lay it on top of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.4. Press the dough into the pan so it fits into all the edges, particularly on the sides of the tart pan. Trim the excess dough from the edges of the pan.5. Refrigerate the tart dough for 10 minutes.6. Remove the tart from the refridgerator, and line the inside of the tart with aluminum foil. Place pie weights (or dried beans, or rice) in the foil.7. Bake for 30 minutes (the tart is easier to bake if you place the tart shell on a cookie sheet).8. Remove the tart from the oven and remove the foil and pie weights. Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 3-5 minutes, or until the tart's edges are is golden, but not browned. Place on a counter or table to cool the tart shell.9. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.10. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and milk to a scald, but not a boil, over low heat.11. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. Whisk until blended.12. Whisk in the sugar and salt until blended. Whisk in one full egg and one additional egg yolk, until blended.13. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake 25 minutes, or until the filling is set but still wobbly. Allow to cool, and serve.Serves 8.Oh, and this is also my entry for Waiter, there's something in my... topless tart! [...]

Thai Lemongrass Soup


(image) It must be because the weather is getting colder (or maybe because I have a cold that has been prolonged indefinitely since I ran the marathon two weeks ago), but I have been craving soup quite a bit lately.

So, back I went to the Thai market I discovered yesterday, this time in search of fresh lemongrass. Of course, they had it -- seriously, this place is phenomenal. Moreover, the people working there are really friendly and very patient when I ask silly questions like, "this is lemongrass, right?" or "how much of it should I use if I'm making lemongrass soup?"

I literally used every leftover vegetable in my fridge to make this soup, and it turned out great. You could also throw in chicken, tofu, or noodles, if you want to make it more of a meal.

And I was about to write, "If you don't have lemongrass, you can substitute..." But, really, if you don't have lemongrass, why on earth are you trying to make lemongrass soup?

Thai Lemongrass Soup

6 cups vegetable broth
3 stalks fresh lemongrass
1" square of fresh galangal, grated
1 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1/2 of a 10 ounce box of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/2 can water chestnuts, sliced

1. In a large saucepan, bring vegetable stock to a simmer.
2. Add onion, lemongrass, galangal, nam pla, and water chestnuts, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add peppers and mushrooms, simmer 5 minutes. Serve.

Serves 4-6.

Galangal Stir Fry


(image) I was browsing around on yesterday, and I noticed that they had a small article on a Thai market in chinatown that had a great selection of hard-to-find fresh Thai ingredients. Since I work withing walking distance of Chinatown, I knew I had to check it out.

My first experiment was fresh galangal, which is a root vegetable that has a taste somewhat similar to ginger, but milder and more citrus-y. I used about 1 square inch of fresh galangal, and I just cut it into small pieces, but you could also grate it, which I think I'll try next time. It was delicious, and adds a very unique flavor to a conventional stir-fry dish. Serve this over rice for a vegetarian entree, or add chicken or shrimp for a heartier main dish.

I'm not planning to cook with it again in the next few days, so I washed, peeled and sliced the rest of the galangal and froze it. The owner of the store told me it freezes well, so look for more recipes with fresh galangal from me in the future!

(image) Galangal Stir Fry

2 heads of broccoli, sliced into florets
1 can of water chestnuts, drained and sliced
1" square of fresh galangal, cut into pieces
1/2 white onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil

1. Heat a saute pan or small wok for 3-4 minutes.
2. Place onion, galangal, garlic and sesame oil in the pan, and saute until onion is translucent.
3. Add broccoli, water chesnuts, and soy sauce, and saute for 6-8 minutes, or until broccoli is cooked and liquid is mostly absorbed.
4. Divide onto two plates, and serve.

Serves 2.

Croque Mademoiselle


(image) Think of this as a french grilled cheese.

Except that there is, actually, a french version of a grilled cheese called a croque monsieur (with ham) or a croque madame (with ham and a fried egg on top... oh, the french). So, we're going to call this a croque mademoiselle, because it's a girly version of the others.

These are beautiful, and fancy, and taste like an indulgence, but there's a twist... they're whole wheat crepes. Bet you couldn't tell, could you? Thanks to the milk, they're not dark or grainy like most whole wheat products. Frankly, I couldn't really even taste the difference between these and my usual crepe recipe.

You could use brie in this recipe as well, but you'd probably want to add it to the crepe while it's still in the pan, because it won't melt as easily as the gruyere. Don't use reduced fat cheese. Just don't.

Croque Mademoiselle

2 eggs
1 cup skim milk
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon butter
8 oz gruyere cheese, grated

1. Whisk together eggs, milk, flour and butter. Refrigerate.
2. Coat a skillet or small saute pan with cooking spray, and place on a burner over medium heat. Pour about 1/3 cup of crepe batter into the pan, tilting to coat the pan's surface. Cook 2 minutes, flip, and cook one or two more minutes.
3. Remove crepe from pan, place on a serving plate. Repeat step 3 with the remaining batter, making 6 crepes in total.
5. Put each crepe onto a plate. Sprinkle shredded gruyere over half the crepe, and fold over.

Serves 4.

Red Potato "Chips"


(image) Last night, I got to try out the newest addition to my little kitchen: a wire baking rack! Now, theoretically, these are supposed to be used for cooling cookies, but they're a phenomenal help in making super-crispy oven-baked foods, too. Because the air can circulate around the food, including underneath, you get a crispy edge on the top and the bottom -- yum! Before I bought this, my oven-baked foods were always a little soggy on the bottom, just from contact with the pan.

You could serve these as a side dish for a twist on a meat-and-potatoes meal, or you could give them to little kids (or big kids) to snack on! I remember my dad making a variation of this for me when I was growing up, and I loved them, and I was a very, very picky child.

Here's what they look like straight out of the oven:
(image) Red Potato "Chips"

4 small red potatoes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Pinch of black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Wash and peel potatoes, and slice paper thin
3. In a medium-size bowl, toss potato slices with spices to coat thoroughly
4. Arrange potato slices on a wire rack in a single layer
5. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, and serve.

Serves 2.

Husk Cherry and Goat Cheese Salad


(image) It's not often that I come across a fruit or vegetable that I've never tried, or even heard of, before. In fact, I think the last time it happened was when I discovered that morels were mushrooms, which was at least two years ago. But I had eaten mushrooms before. These, on the other hand, were pretty much completely new.

I noticed a bin labeled "husk cherries" at the Union Square Greenmarket yesterday, and of course, I had to try them. The seller recommended using them raw in a salad or dipping them in chocolate. Since I was already buying lettuce and herbed goat cheese, I went the salad route.

They don't taste like cherries, or really like anything I've eaten before. The insides are full of tiny seeds, kind of like a cross between a strawberry and a tomato. To me, they taste a little bit sweet, and very, very wild, like something you would find growing on a vine somewhere, and hope that they didn't poison you. I'm surprised they haven't popped up in innovative New York restaurants yet, but maybe I'm ahead of the curve?

Here's what the finished salad looks like:

(image) Husk Cherry and Goat Cheese Salad

1 pound field greens, washed
1/2 pound husk cherries (substitute green grapes for a somewhat similar flavor)
4 ounces herbed goat cheese (I used basil and garlic goat cheese, also from the farmer's market)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp basalmic vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt (I used pink sea salt)
Pinch of black pepper

1. Wash lettuce, remove cherries from their husks, and wash. Dry.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Mix together lettuce, husk cherries, and dressing. Divide onto four plates.
4. Thinly slice goat cheese, and distribute slices onto plates (3-4 slices per plate). Serve.

Serves 4.

Carrot Leek Soup


(image) This would be a great Thanksgiving recipe! I spent about an hour today roaming around the Union Square farmer's market and picking up some fresh, locally-grown vegetables. Not surprisingly, there was an abundance of root vegetables. It's hard to imagine much is growing above-ground this time of year (although several stands did still have tomatoes). But I bought a bunch of carrots because I love them as snacks... and then I saw the leeks. Epiphany!

This turned out even better than I hoped. The saffron and cocoa gave it tons of flavor, and the pepper gave it a subtle spicy aftertaste. You could finish this off with a half-cup of cream stirred in, if you wanted, or a drizzle of olive oil over the top. I just added a teaspoon or so of sour cream, and it was perfect!

Carrot Leek Soup

1 pound of carrots, peeled
1 small white onion
1 leek, washed with leaves discarded
3 cloves garlic
5 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp chili powder (or more, to your preference)
1 bay leaf
Generous pinch of saffron threads
Pinch of black pepper
Sour cream, to garnish

1. Slice carrots into 1/4" round pieces. Chop onion into 1/2" pieces.
2. In a large saucepan, bring vegetable broth, carrots, onion, leek, garlic, and spices to a gentle boil.
3. Cover and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Strain the soup, collecting liquid in a large mixing bowl.
5. Pour solids into a food processor. Discard bay leaf. Puree until smooth.
6. Pour puree from the food processor into the mixing bowl with the broth. Mix until blended.
7. Pour soup into bowls, garnish with sour cream, and serve.

Serves four.

Parmesan Wheat Bread


As I was making this bread, I kept thinking to myself, "this is such a pain in the butt. There is no way this will be worth the effort." Then it came out of the oven. Now, I think I'll be making this recipe at least once a week! It was amazing -- light and full of air and not at all grainy. The parmesan taste is really subtle, but it gives the bread's flavor a really nice kick.Now, let me explain why this recipe was a (worthwhile) pain. Using whole wheat flour alone (as opposed to all purpose flour, or a mix of the two) means that the dough will take a long time to rise. In order to get the dough to rise, I had to crank up the heat in my apartment, while the oven was preheating, and leave them on my kitchen table in the hot sun with the shades open. At one point, my thermometer read 102 degrees on the table! Needless to say, kind of a pain. Plus, the water has to be 120 to 130 degrees when you add it to the dry ingredients -- my sink can't get water that hot, so I had to microwave it and then test the temperature again. Again, annoying. But, I swear, one bite of the finished product was enough to make me swear by this recipe. I've put some tips into the directions to make it easier, if others want to try it!Parmesan Wheat BreadINGREDIENTS:2 1/2 cups of 100% whole wheat flour1 cup of hot water (120 to 130 degrees)1 package of yeast (11 grams)1 tablespoon white sugar1 teaspoon salt1/2 cup grated parmesan cheeseDIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.2. Mix flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.3. Turn on faucet until water is as hot as it gets. Measure temperature. If temperature is below 120 degrees, measure a cup of water and pour into a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 40 seconds, and take temperature again. Repeat if water is not 120 degrees.4. Add water to the flour mixture and knead until blended. Add parmesan cheese and knead for 2-3 minutes more, or until blended.5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, coating all sides of dough. Cover bowl with saran wrap, and let rise somewhere warm for 30 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.6. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough flat into a 12"x18" rectangle. Cut dough in half to form two 12"x9" rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, creating a 12" log. Continue to roll until log is16" long, and cut in half. Repeat for both halves of dough (creating four 8" rolls).7. Place each roll 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches. Cover with saran wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until doubled again.8. Pour one cup of water into a second baking dish, and place in preheated oven.9. Bake bread for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tops of loaves are just starting to brown.Makes four 8" mini-loaves.[...]

Basil Butter


(image) I made this to go with my cornbread, but you could use it with regular bread as well. Or, if you want a really rich roasted chicken dish, you could use this under the skin on the breasts and thighs. My favorite brunch place in the city has strawberry butter at breakfast, and garlic butter if you go for dinner. I wake up on Sunday mornings craving it, and I'm not even normally a butter eater!

Basil Butter

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
10 basil leaves
Salt, to taste

1. Mince basil leaves.
2. Combine basil, butter and salt. Mix until blended.
3. Roll butter into a log, and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for one hour, or until firm.
4. Remove from refrigerator and slice into pats immediately before serving.

Serves eight.



(image) Here's the thing about cornbread. It's basically just a loaf of corn muffins. Which is probably why it's so good. But that makes me wonder: blueberry bread? Does that exist already? I'll keep pondering. Maybe I'm better off just making muffins, but it might be worth an experiment...

These were great, and SO easy! This is a really, really light recipe -- you can even add a few pats of (forthcoming) basil butter, guilt-free. However, since most of its moistness comes from the milk, and not oil, it won't keep very well. Eat it within a day or two, and make sure it's stored in an airtight container. This would be a great brunch side dish, or you could use it as a dinner appetizer, like I did. Delicious!

Here's what it looked like in the dish -- irresistible!

(image) Cornbread

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal and milk.
3. Grease a medium-size baking dish, or two smaller dishes.
4. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the cornmeal mixture, eggs and oil and whisk until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes about 24 slices.

Pizza Margherita


(image) Mmmm... pizza. I have to say, pizza is one of the most wonderful foods to ever be created. I'm pretty sure I ate it every night for most of college. And I'm pretty sure I wasn't particularly unique in that respect. So, last night, I made it! It turned out really well. The sauce was wonderful, but I'm going to keep experimenting with the homemade crust recipe. I like really thin crusts, and no matter how much I rolled this out, I couldn't get it thin enough without the dough tearing. Probably I should eliminate the yeast all together, and I needed something to make it easier to roll. I'm definitely going to keep trying! The sauce, though, was perfect!

Pizza Margherita


3 cups all purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano

2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp onion salt
Pinch of paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
Pinch of ground pepper
8 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

12 ounces of mozzarella, shredded or sliced
8 basil leaves, torn into small pieces


For dough:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine water, yeast, and sugar in mixing bowl, and wait until yeast is frothy.
3. Mix flour, salt, olive oil, and spices into yeast mixture (mix salt into the second cup of flour to combine).
4. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel, and allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
5. Roll dough out into a large pizza peel, or onto two medium-size baking sheets.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes, and set aside.

For sauce:
7. In a medium bowl, combine tomato paste, water, parmesan, sugar, and spices. Mix basil leaves into sauce.

To finish:
8. Spread sauce on pre-baked crust. Top with mozzarella and basil leaves, and bake for 8-10 minutes at 375, or until cheese is browned.

Serves eight.



(image) When I was in high school, I spent two summers in France and ate a demi-baguette for lunch every day. The bread there was so good, you didn't even need to put anything on it -- although cheese or nutella never hurt anyone.

However, with rare exceptions, the bread in New York just doesn't compare. I have tried every bakery within about 10 blocks of my apartment, without finding a single one that I'm satisfied with. When I lived in the West Village, I used to go to Amy's Bread at least twice a a week, which was wonderful. But so far, no luck in my new neighborhood.

The obvious solution is to learn to bake my own bread, so I figured I would give it a try. And, surprisingly, it's not actually that difficult! It kind of takes a long time, but overall, this recipe is pretty foolproof.

A few bread-baking tips:
  1. Add yeast to warm, but not hot, water, with a tiny amount of sugar, and wait. If it bubbles, your yeast is good.
  2. Do NOT add salt to the water mixture. Blend it with the flour, and add it that way.
  3. Bake the bread with an extra tin of water in the oven for thicker, crustier loaf.

Eat it hot out of the oven. I was supposed to be saving it for tonight, but I couldn't resist! Just look at that crust!


2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of warm water (110 to 120 degrees)
1 package of yeast (11 grams)
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Dissolve yeast in sugar and water. Let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.
3. Mix flour and salt. Add water mixture to the flour and knead until blended.
4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, coating all sides of dough. Cover bowl with saran wrap, and let rise somewhere warm for 30 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.
5. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough flat into a 12"x18" rectangle. Cut dough in half to form two 12"x9" rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, creating a 12" log. 6. Place each roll 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches. Cover with saran wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled again.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tops of loaves are just starting to brown.

Makes 2 12" loaves, or about 24 slices.

Pumpkin Cheesecake


(image) If this doesn't sound decadent, I don't know what would. But, more importantly, it's a prepare-ahead dessert. So crucial. After appetizers and wine and a full dinner, who wants to put effort into serving dessert? Enter the pumpkin cheesecake, which you cleverly prepared the night before your dinner party. Add some vanilla ice cream, and everyone goes home happy.

I used neufchâtel cheese, rather than cream cheese, because I can't help myself, I have to make everything just a little bit healthier. I guarantee none of my friends will notice. As a bonus, neufchâtel is softer and much easier to cream together with sugar than regular cream cheese.

I haven't tasted this yet, because it's for my guests tonight, but I did try a little of the batter and it was wonderful. One thing you can't see from the picture: it's a double-layer cheesecake. The bottom layer is plain cheesecake filling, and the top layer is the yummy pumpkin cheesecake mixture that you see in the photo above. Hopefully this will look particularly impressive when I cut into it!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 8 ounce containers of neufchâtel cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
Graham-cracker crust (store bought)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cream together the neufchâtel cheese, sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one by one once the cheese is blended.
3. Pour one cup of the cheese mixture into the graham cracker crust, and spread evenly.
4. Blend the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the remaining batter. Spread in an even layer over the plain-cheesecake mixture.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, stop while filling is still slightly wobbly.
6. Refrigerate overnight, and serve!

Serves 6-8.

Cinnamon White Chocolate Fudge


(image) This is my first time making fudge! And I don't own a candy thermometer, so it's a little bit of a cheat recipe. When they first came out of the refrigerator, they tasted a little bit like vanilla caramels, which gave me the idea for wrapping them in wax paper. Either way, they're really good, and very easy to make!

The best moment, by far, of the entire endeavor was watching my dog Coco try to figure out what on earth this concoction was. I couldn't stop myself from taking a picture!

(image) Cinnamon White Chocolate Fudge

1 1/2 cups Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
Almost 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces) (pour out two tablespoons)
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

1. Place chocolate, condensed milk, and butter in a microwave-safe container.
2. Microwave for two minutes, remove, stir, and add cinnamon, vanilla and salt.
3. Microwave for 90 seconds, remove, and stir.
4. Microwave for90 seconds, remove and stir. Mixture will be bubbling and scary looking. That's ok.
5. Pour mixture into a greased baking dish. Refrigerate until fudge is set.
6. Once fudge is set, cut into one-inch squares.

Optional Step 7: Cut each one-inch square in half, forming a rectangle. Wrap each candy in a 3"x3" square of wax paper, as demonstrated below:

(image) Makes about 20 one-inch squares, or 40 smaller rectangles.